Regulating wicked and unspeakable problems

This research is concerned with the management of a specific class of wicked problem – unspeakable problems. Unspeakable problems are difficult for policy makers to engage with stakeholders around due to the high levels of psychosocial sensitivity and verbal proscription which characterise them. Unspeakable problems currently resisting resolution in public policy include those related to sanitation (such as the rejection of recycled water proposals) and deathscapes (such as controversies surrounding eco-burials and other forms of non-traditional interment). The successful management of such policy issues has potentially significant sustainability, social justice and economic impacts. This research agenda advances policy understandings of wicked problems in general, unspeakable problems more specifically, and shapes associated stakeholder engagement approaches.

Chief Investigators


  • Grant-Smith, Deanna, Osborne, Natalie (2016) Dealing with discomfort: How the unspeakable confounds wicked planning problems Australian Planner, 53 (1), pp.46-53.